How do you give formal commands in Spanish?
Formal commands in Spanish are used when ordering or telling someone to do something. This is often referred to as the “imperative” form of the verb.
Note: Spanish has both a formal and an informal style of speech (tú / usted). This distinction applies to commands. Informal, speech is used among friends, coworkers, relatives, or when addressing a child. Formal speech is generally used to be polite or to express respect.
- Start with the yo form of the present indicative.
- Then drop the – o ending.
- Finally, add the following endings:
ar verbs/er verbs/ir verbs
Usted (you formal)e/a/a
Ustedes(you all formal)en/an/an
Hable usted rápido – Speak fast
Hablen ustedes rápido – Speak fast
Coma usted lento – Eat slow
Coman ustedes lento – Eat slow
Escriba usted con claridad – Write clearly
Escriban ustedes con claridad – Write clearly
Remember, if the first person singular (Yo) form is irregular, that irregularity is carried over into the formation of the formal command.
pedir (to ask) (Yo pido)
Pida más tiempo. – Ask for more time
As with the Present subjunctive, the following verbs are irregular:
Dar (to give)–dé usted / –den ustedes
Estar (to be)–esté usted / –estén ustedes
Ir (to go)–vaya usted / –vayan ustedes
Ser(to be)–sea usted / –sean ustedes
Saber(to know)–sepa usted / –sepan ustedes.
The affirmative and negative commands use the same verb forms.
Hable usted. – (Speak).-No hable usted. – (Don’t speak).
Coma usted.- (Eat)-No coma usted. – (Don’t eat).
Escriba usted. – (Write).-No escriba usted. – (Don’t write).